Constitution Day sparks discussion

Acting Managing Editor

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The U.S. Constitution

A legal scholar said in “Constitution USA with Peter Sagal,” “This little document. It means everything to us.”

Constitution Day, held in the Davidson Room on Sept. 19, was hosted by Dr. Jack Bernardo, associate professor of political science and Professor Joseph Bristow. The event included a viewing of PBS’s “Constitution USA with Peter Sagal” and a discussion about the rights and freedoms guaranteed to all U.S. citizens by our founding document.

“Use your freedoms to express your point of view,” Bernardo said when introducing the event. “Use them to counter other points of view.”

Some people are indifferent about our Constitution and the rights and liberties provided to them.

When asked to provide his thoughts on our Constitution, Business Administration major Kevin Sia said, “I don’t do politics… I don’t do that stuff. I just like peace.”

Others remained focused on one provision when discussing their rights and liberties that are guaranteed.

A CCM student who wanted to remain anonymous on the record said, “freedom of speech has been taken away… you have to be so careful as to what you say to not offend people these days.”

“Freedom of speech is an amendment that is rarely found in other countries,” said Mustafa Khan, a business administration major. “It’s a powerful freedom and it’s misused by some people especially in case of verbal abusing.”

On the other hand, Music Performance major Ken Clancy and many others on campus have a more practical take on the document that this country was founded on.

“I think the Constitution sets boundaries on what we can and can’t do,” Clancy said. “It also allows what needs to be done… [and] to do what we want with our lives.”

One of the biggest criticisms about our Constitution is the perceived outdated nature by students all across the country.

Hospitality Management major, Cristian, who did not give his last name, said, “The document was written almost 300 years ago… that’s a long time ago, right?”

He went on to say, “While it’s important to keep these ideals, we have to update them to problems we face today.”

It has been said by countless legal scholars that our Nation’s founders could have never expected the Constitution to allow for some of the huge technological advances we have made today.

There was much debate at the event about our Fourth Amendment, protecting against unreasonable search and seizure and the ever changing nature of our founding document. Also of concern was how far our First Amendment should go in protecting speech that in some instances can be hateful.

Antoine Jones was arrested for drug possession after police attached a GPS to his vehicle and tracked him without his knowledge and a search warrant. The Supreme Court heard the appeal. The question confronting the bench was if the warrantless use of a GPS violated Jones’s Fourth Amendment right to “reasonable search and seizure”.

In a 9-0 vote in favor of Jones, the Court held in 2012 that the use of a GPS tracking device on Jones’ vehicle, without a warrant, constituted an unlawful search and seizure protected under the Fourth Amendment.

During the Court’s 2010 term, a major update was made in First Amendment jurisprudence. The Westboro Baptist Church, a known hate group nationwide, appeared at the funeral of Marine Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder. The group displayed signs that said, “Thank God for dead soldiers,” “F– troops,” and made other hateful comments at the event.

The Court was forced to decide whether the First Amendment allows protesters to intentionally inflict emotional distress on the family of the deceased.

In an 8-1 vote in favor of Phelps, the Supreme Court held that the First Amendment shields those who stage a protest at the funeral of a military service member from liability.

Justice Samuel Alito was the only person who dissented in the case. He said, “Our profound national commitment to free and open debate is not a license for the vicious verbal assault that occurred in this case.”

The great Chief Justice said in McCulloch v. Maryland (1819), “we must never forget that it is a constitution we are expounding.”


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